'Breakout' Stars Who Still Haven’t Become Actual Stars

List Rules
Vote up the actors who should be a bigger deal by now.

Among movie and TV fans, everyone has their favorite unsung stars, the actors who should be more famous in their opinion. Anyone who gets a job in a major movie or TV show already beat the odds by getting their foot in the door of a nearly impossible industry. However, somehow, someway, for whatever reason, they never crossed over the threshold into major Hollywood breakout stardom.

Some of these underrated celebrities simply had a string of box office bombs following a promising early role. Most of the time, it’s not even their fault. They didn’t write every script or direct their movies. On a few occasions, a rising star made unsavory comments in the media, and it subsequently hurt their career (comparing a blockbuster director/producer to Hitler is never a good idea). Ultimately, as long as they're still getting attention, there's always a chance for a second wind or a late resurgence to recapture their peak potential.


  • 1
    2,127 VOTES
    Blake Lively
    Photo: Gossip Girl / The CW

    For six backstabbing seasons, Blake Lively played "It Girl" Serena van der Woodsen on Gossip Girl and carried an entire TV franchise. When the CW teen drama went off the air in 2012, many expected the blonde goddess to make a successful transition as the next A-list actress on the big screen.

    Her first chance at stardom actually came a year before her Gossip Girl exit in what could have been a franchise role in 2011's Green Lantern. That film, however, barely made back its production budget and was completely dissed by both critics and comic book fans. 

    A string of forgettable roles in mediocre movies followed. Savages, The Age of Adaline, The Shallows, and A Simple Favor rounded out the decade. While a few of her movies earned some praise from genre fans, none of them lived up to the A-list potential that was seen in her future.

    • Age: 35
    • Birthplace: Tarzana, California, USA
  • 2
    1,803 VOTES
    Sam Worthington
    Photo: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

    In 2009, Avatar became the highest-grossing film ever made (temporarily, since Avengers: Endgame took over the top spot in 2019). James Cameron's sci-fi epic grossed an astonishing $2.79 billion at the box office. It could be argued that the jaw-dropping 3D special effects and Cameron's vision were the true stars of the movie, but one would think that its lead protagonist Sam Worthington should also receive some of the credit. 

    The handsome Australian star seemed like a slam dunk to be the next breakout leading man. Unfortunately, a string of box office disappointments followed Worthington's performance in Avatar. Worthington starred in Clash of the Titans, which performed well at the box office. However, its sequel Wrath of the Titans was a financial disappointment. Both large-scale epics failed to impress critically. A third installment, Revenge of the Titans, originally had a 2013 release date. However, the film was canned after Wrath's poor showing. 

    Worthington's career took another dip beginning in 2012. His films Man on a LedgeSabotage, and Titan all failed to make him a bankable Hollywood star. However, there is a silver lining. Cameron has been busy waiting for technology to catch up with his vision for Avatar. The director has four more Avatar films planned over the next several years. So as long as Worthington's character Jake Sully remains in Cameron's narrative plan, the actor will have plenty of high-profile cinematic work in the near future.

    • Age: 46
    • Birthplace: Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
  • 3
    1,571 VOTES

    Texas forever! Friday Night Light fans will forever look fondly at Taylor Kitsch, who played bad boy with a good heart Tim Riggins on the high school football series for five seasons. When FNL wrapped in 2011, Kitsch was poised to be the next hot Hollywood leading man.

    Kitsch's first huge role came in the epic John Carter, which was supposed to launch the next big movie franchise for Disney. Instead, the film became one of the biggest flops in movie history after suffering a $200 million loss. Plans for a sequel were immediately squashed. His next blockbuster Battleship was poorly received by critics, although it did at least make back its production budget. In all fairness, these movies didn't fail because of Kitsch. They failed because they weren't great stories and relied too much on special effects. 

    The actor returned to the small screen in what should have been a slam dunk. Kitsch took on the part of troubled police officer Paul Woodrugh in the second season of True Detective alongside a powerhouse cast including Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn, and Colin Farrell. Unfortunately, that entire season of the HBO drama was largely dissed by critics and audiences alike.

    It's certainly not over for Kitsch, though. He proved he could really act in the miniseries Wacowhere he played the lead role of cult leader David Koresh. The Canadian actor is also set to star in the prestige television series Shadowplay, where he plays a Brooklyn cop who is assigned to a position in post-WWII Berlin.

    • Age: 41
    • Birthplace: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
  • 4
    1,316 VOTES
    Tye Sheridan
    Photo: X-Men: Apocalypse / 20th Century Fox

    When Tye Sheridan was just 14 years old, director Terrence Malick picked him out of a sea of 10,000 young actors to appear in his 2011 Palme d'Or-winning film Tree of Life. The Texas-born actor then proved he could lead a feature film when he was cast as Ellis in 2012's critical darling Mud

    Next, Sheridan decided to pursue the blockbuster route (who could blame him). He entered the X-Men universe in 2016 to take on the role of Scott Summers/Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse. Steven Spielberg then hired Sheridan for the lead role in his 2018 blockbuster Ready Player One. The nostalgic love letter to all things that were great in the 1980s became a massive commercial success, bringing in over $580 million at the international box office. 

    With such prestige films and massive blockbuster successes on his filmography, why isn't Sheridan a household name? Could it possibly be because his big roles in both X-Men and Ready Player One have almost completely covered his face? There's a lot of career left for Sheridan, and hopefully, we will see a lot more of him in the future.

    • Age: 25
    • Birthplace: Elkhart, Texas, USA